CMS hopes to deliver on first-place ranking with SCIAC victory

A woman is mid-swing at home plate with an umpire, catcher, and crowd behind her, and softball flies off to the left of the image
Maddie Valdez CM ’21 swings for a base hit in the Athena’s 6-1 win over Pacific Lutheran Feb. 16. (Amy Best • The Student Life)

Claremont-Mudd-Scripps softball is looking to follow up last season’s success with a first-place finish at the SCIAC tournament. A preseason coaches poll from the conference favored the Athenas to finish first again in 2020. 

“We are honored; however, we know that it is not a given,” head coach Gina Oaks Garcia said, regarding the coaches poll. “We will trust the process, work hard and take it one pitch at a time.”

Eight of CMS’s 10 starters are returning, including star pitcher Lauren Richards CM ’22 — who led the SCIAC in wins last season and recorded a 2.86 earned run average — and Megan Perron CM ’21, who finished last season with a team-best .442 batting average and was named a second-team NFCA All-American last season.

In addition, the Athenas are welcoming five new first-years to the lineup. 

“Our freshman class has a tremendous amount of talent,” Oaks Garcia said. “I am looking forward to seeing each of them have their time to shine.”

The Athenas began their season with three conference games against Chapman, winning the first and third 6-0 and 5-1, respectively, and losing the second 11-3 in six innings.

“I think our first games against Chapman went well for the most part,” Jessica Fox CM ’21 said. “It was nice to be back out there, and although one of the games didn’t go as planned, I think how we fought back for game three shows the determination of the team.”

Since the Chapman games, the Athenas have yet to face any other SCIAC opponents, but came out on top once against Pacific Lutheran and twice against St. Katherine. For the Athenas, every pitch is important, no matter the opponent.

“We work hard each and every practice, and our motto this year is to ‘take it up a notch,’” Oaks Garcia said.

CMS is confident they can continue to prove why they were the fifth-ranked team in the country at a point last year. 

“Obviously, the end goal is to win a national championship, and I think we can do it,” Fox said. “We want to win the SCIAC conference as well as the tournament and just continue to grow throughout the season.”

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